Officials from the Ministry of Health have Friday appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on National Economy to justify a loan request for some additional Shs 700bn to fund the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The officials led by the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng had appeared before Parliament committee to defend government’s proposal to borrow USD 300 million from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.
The loan request was tabled before Parliament this week by the Minister of State for Finance, David Bahati who noted that the funds are needed to provide sufficient resources to the health sector in a bid to mitigate the negative effects of COVID 19 on the economy.
Aceng informed the committee that the Ministry requires Shs 1 trillion to combat COVID 19 between March to September but they have only been availed Shs 300 billion.
“The total budget that we require for the period of March to September to manage COVID is Shs 1 trillion as indicated according to the pillars that we use to fight the pandemic. The highest pillars are logistics and laboratory which covers for the personal protective equipment and the test kits,” Aceng said.
Aceng noted that so far, the Ministry has committed Shs 322bn which is a contribution from both the government of Uganda and partners.
“That is the money we mobilized and we are using so far and the deficit is the 700bn, percentage deficit is 68%,Aceng said.
Aceng as well informed MPs on the committee that the Ministry has procured 38 ambulances at a cost of Shs 11 billion and also plan to set up non-residential buildings at cost of Shs 500 million.
“The items which we planned for are; ambulances, ICU equipment, furniture and non-residential buildings. Under ambulances, we have placed an order for 68 ambulances which will cost us Shs 11bn which money is already encumbered and the ambulances are expected in June, ” Aceng noted.
The Minister observed that the ICU equipment for the regional referrals will require Shs 42.4m which money is already encumbered and it is expected in June while furniture for the hospitals will cost Shs 300m, and non-residential buildings Shs 500m.
The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine noted that the Shs 500m for non-residential buildings will be used to refurbish places to put ICU equipments in the regional referral hospitals.
“Some hospitals don’t have space where to put this equipment and that is the money we have encumbered to do that, ” Atwiine said.